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A History of Michigan’s Clean Energy Decision Making (Since 2016)

It’s hard to believe, but it’s now been four years since the Michigan Legislature passed our landmark 2016 energy law—something AMP and other energy advocates across the state fought for over nearly two years.

Passed with broad bipartisan support, Michigan’s 2016 energy law put our state on the right track for a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. It also set the stage for subsequent decisions by state regulators, Michigan businesses, and local energy providers that would help secure that future while protecting reliability, fairness, and affordability for all Michiganders.

Today, we’re taking a look back at some of the major clean energy-related decisions that Michigan has made over the past four years. Check out our top 5 below.

  1. Saying Goodbye to Net Metering

Prior to our 2016 energy law, billing for private solar and other forms of distributed generation was determined by a policy known as net metering. This policy required local energy providers to purchase electricity from consumers with private solar panels installed at their homes or businesses at retail rates.

Passage of our 2016 energy law directed the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to phase out net metering and develop a new program to determine billing for distributed generation, like private solar. In its place, the regulatory agency created a system based on an inflow/outflow model, which pays private solar customers competitive rates for the electricity they produce while ensuring everyone shares the costs of maintaining the grid.

  1. Adopting an Integrated Resource Planning Process

Michigan’s 2016 energy law also paved the way for a more comprehensive energy planning process by calling on local energy providers to begin developing Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs). Essentially, IRPs outline a plan for how each local energy company will meet the energy needs of their customers over the long term.

IRPs allow Michigan’s energy providers to provide a holistic look at the different energy resources and generation techniques they intended to use in order to provide reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean energy. DTE Energy and Consumers Energy developed separate IRPs, but in reality, they work together to provide complementary plans for meeting Michigan’s energy needs in more sustainable ways.

Earlier this year, both IRPs were submitted to the MPSC which is instrumental in helping implement energy policies like our 2016 energy law—and ultimately approved with changes recommended by the agency.

  1. Moving Forward on Developing Cleaner In-State Energy Generation

Another key clean energy decision came when the MPSC issued a Certificate of Necessity for a new, state-of-the-art natural gas plant in St. Clair County back in 2018. The green light from the MPSC was a major win against out-of-state groups and special interests that flooded Michigan media with misinformation. Ultimately, the MPSC sided with our state’s bipartisan energy policy.

Local energy provide DTE Energy broke ground on the planned Blue Water Energy Center last year, and the project is expected to be up and running in 2022. Once open, it will generate clean, reliable power for 850,000 Michigan homes.

  1. Increasing Carbon Reduction Commitments

Since passage of our 2016 energy law, both Consumers Energy and DTE Energy have increased their commitment to cutting carbon emissions. Just last year, both local energy providers committed to reducing carbon output by 80% by 2040.

Both have also pledged to achieve net zero emissions—meaning entirely eliminating the impact of carbon emissions by the electricity they generate or purchase for customers—between 2040 and 2050. Here’s how both local energy providers plan to meet their ambitious net zero goals.

  1. Pushing the Envelope on Carbon Neutrality

Just this fall, Governor Whitmer made another key clean energy decision when she signed two executive orders requiring state buildings and infrastructure to also be carbon-neutral by 2050. This directive is in line with the net zero goals made by local energy providers and will be yet another piece of the puzzle in determining Michigan’s clean energy future.

Curious about other clean energy milestones in Michigan—both before and after our 2016 energy law? Check out this graphic.